It was the dawn of a new era this past Saturday night at Eureka, California’s Redwood Acres Raceway as the 2014 racing season at the 3/8-mile paved oval began after an extended and lengthy off season. Besides being the first race of the new year, it was the first race for the track’s new promoters, Blair Aiken and his daughter, Jennifer Aiken. The Aikens took over promoting the Acres this year after Rich and Linda Olson decided to retire at the end of 2013 after 26 straight seasons as the track’s promoters.
Along with the new promoters taking over the responsibility of operating RAR, changes have been made on both sides of the track in order to better improve the experience for the fans. The mini stock class is back at the Acres after being away for a few years. A bigger change comes in the form of new rules for the real stock and sportsman divisions with the idea of local cars in both divisions being able to compete at other tracks in the region and vice versa. On the fan’s side of the track, there is a new café with a fresh new menu.
The roadrunner division trophy dash win went to Gary Klinetobe. Victories in the heat races went to Steve Paiment and Klinetobe. Gray Ethridge led the opening few laps of the feature event before losing the lead to Rick Esty. A few laps later, Paiment took the lead away from Esty as the field sorted itself out. Klinetobe and Eugene Palmer worked their way by Paiment just before Tim Abeyta had issues entering turn three and hit the wall.
Things got wild on the restart when Ethridge got together with Esty going into the first turn. Officials disqualified Ethridge for rough driving. On the next restart, Paiment spun resulting in another caution. The run to the checkered flag featured a duel between Klientobe and Palmer. Second place, Palmer tried his best to intimidate Klientobe out of the lead, including applying the bumper several times. Klientobe withstood Palmer’s challenges and went on to claim the win followed by Paiment and Kayla Foster.
Prior to racing in the bomber division, Donnie Hyman’s car suffered issues in practice which forced him out of action for the night. Leonard Ward took home the trophy dash victory while Tyler Avelar narrowly beat Ward to win the heat race. Matt Simon became the second casualty of the night in the heat when he engine let go. The bomber feature was highlighted by an intense duel for the lead between Avelar and Ward. Avelar dominated the race until the closing stages when he began suffering issues. Ward was able to inherit the lead and cruise to victory a lap ahead of second and third place finishers, Michael Ward and rookie driver, James Moore.
The mini stock had only three cars show up on the night with Brian Murrell, Jr. not being able to race after issues in practice. His younger brother, Brett Murrell was able to beat Jordon Paiment in both the trophy dash and feature races. Both drivers are mini stock rookies coming up from the roadrunner division ranks.
Paul Peeples, Jr. took the trophy dash win for the Thunder Roadster cars while David Henderson won the hotly contested heat race over Peeples. The Thunder Roadster feature got off to an unfortunate start when Robbie Nelson and Peeples wrecked coming off turn two. Henderson was also involved but spun and did not receive any damage to his car.
After the restart, Chris Sarvinski and Henderson staged a fantastic nip and tuck duel for the race lead. It appeared as though Sarvinski held the advantage in the power department while Henderson had the edge in handling. With 10 laps left, Henderson was able to find the low day past Sarvinski to take the lead and the eventual victory. Sarvinski fought off Tommy Payne for the runner-up position while Bruce Ziemer took fourth.
Jerry Peterson was victorious in the late model trophy dash. Heat race victories in the division went to Al Acuna and Mic Moulton. The 35-lap feature proved to be a slam-bang affair right from the first lap. Going into the third turn, Luke Hall made contact with Kenny Demello. Demello spun and appeared to have minimal damage but was unable to return to the track. After the restart, the race was slowed again for an incident, this time between Acuna and Peterson who were racing for the lead. Thankfully both drivers were able to continue in the race.
The highlight of the entire evening was the duel for the race lead between Moulton and Hall. The two veteran drivers raced door-handle-to-door-handle for numerous laps, thrilling the packed house. Moulton appeared to have the advantage handling wise but just as he was able to put a gap between himself and Hall, a caution flag flew.
As happens in short track racing, there was contact on lap 25 when Hall got into the rear of Moulton sending Moulton spinning out of the lead and both cars to the rear of the field. This gave the lead to Peterson who had been watching the top two cars duel for the entire race. After the restart, Moulton was able to quickly maneuver his way to second but that was as far as he would get. Peterson had enough strength to fight off a last lap challenge from Moulton who spun between turns three and four on the final lap. Moulton’s spin allowed Hall to finish second with Acuna taking the third position.
Racing returns to Redwood Acres Raceway for a special Sunday evening event this weekend, May 25th. It’s Salute The Troops night at the Acres featuring the North State Modified Series which is in its inaugural season. Of course the five local divisions of late models, Thunder Roadsters, bombers, mini stocks and roadrunners will also be joining in the action. Grandstand ticket booths open at 5:00 PM while racing begins at 6:30 PM. There is a special test and tune event Saturday the 24th for all divisions.
For more information regarding this weekend’s races or anything else this season, please visit Redwood Acres Raceway’s new and official website, www.racingtheacres.com.